November 18, 2017

Will Uncertainty in Dortmund’s Camp Ruin the Season Finale?

The past week has been full of news and speculations regarding Thomas Tuchel’s future at Borussia Dortmund and the internal dispute that is present between him and the board. Several media outlets have said that Borussia Dortmund is looking to replace Tuchel with former Borussia Mönchengladbach and current Nice manager Lucien Favre.

While Tuchel refuses to talk about the future and stressed on the importance of focusing on games at hand, neither he nor CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke have contradicted the news of an internal quarrel which started after Tuchel criticized the BVB board for agreeing to play the champions league quarter final game vs. AS Monaco less than 24 hours after the attack on the BVB team bus.

Even if that may be the precipitating factor there has clearly been some kind of tension among the aforementioned parties throughout the season. From the departure of BVB’s 3 best players, after Watzke promised not all three will leave, to the disagreement between Tuchel and the head of scouting Sven Mislintat over the failed signing of Atlético Madrid midfielder Oliver Torres, dissent has been present throughout the season. And while we don’t exactly know the extent of these disagreements the media has been filled with countless headlines about a new manager at the Signal Iduna Park.

However even more important than who will be in charge at Dortmund next season are the two crucial games against Werder Bremen in the last Match Day of the Bundesliga and Eintracht Frankfurt in the Cup final in Berlin. Win those games and BVB will end the season with a direct qualification to the Champions League group stage and a first major trophy in 5 years. Lose and the Black and yellows will have very little to show for their season.

It has always been surprising and at times annoying how big transfer news tend to surface whenever Borussia Dortmund is gearing up for a crucial game. In 2013, news of Mario Götze summer departure to Bayern Munich was made official before a second leg Semi Final tie against Real Madrid, in which BVB lost 2-0 so close to throwing their 4-1 advantage from the first leg. We all know what happened in that final. Last April, Mats Hummels’ move to Bayern Munich was announced.

The main focus before the 2016 DFB Pokal final between these two teams was all on the Bavaria bound Center Back. Will he take a penalty if the game goes to shootouts? Will he underperform? And so on and so on … And this season before an important game against Hoffenhiem, Watzke admitted in an interview the presence of a disagreement between him and Tuchel. Even though BVB managed to beat their rivals 2-1 that was not the main concern of the media and pretty much everyone else in and around the club. Tuchel stated that he had to apologize to the players because their performance was not the point of discussion.

This raises questions like couldn’t these wait until the end of the season? Why would the board want to sabotage the whole season by going to the media now? In these day and age where media outlets are sniffing for the tiniest of clues to break the internet it doesn’t seem smart to give them a news they can multiply and replicate.

We don’t know the full story or what happened behind closed doors but one thing we can agree on is that the club should come first. This is not about taking sides. Watzke is a man who has done everything to bring Dortmund back to the top and Tuchel has done remarkably well since taking in charge but the club is bigger than both. It’s time to put any disagreements on hold and focus on the big picture. A 3rd place finish, a Quarter Final in the UCL and a cup trophy were the goals set at the start of the season. Tuchel has already fulfilled one and is close to fulfilling the rest. But it won’t be a surprise if this stormy week halts that progress. After Saturday’s 1-1 draw away to Augsburg only goal differences separate BVB from 4th placed Hoffenhiem. And BVB will need everything to go right in Berlin, a place where they have lost 3 consecutive cup finals in a row, and Saturday’s injury to Julian Weigl which sidelined him for 3-4 months doesn’t help.

Tuchel is a bright young manager who is wanted by many big clubs around Europe the list of which includes Barcelona and Arsenal. But he still has one year left in his contract and his project at the club is starting not finishing. I know Tuchel is not as visibly charasmatic, passionate, or lovable as his predecessor Jürgen Klopp, but who is? It’s clear that internal communications need to work in order to be successful, the main reason Klopp attributed his success at BVB to, but we should also keep in mind that in a purely sporting aspect BVB will struggle to find a manager as good as the 43 year old and will the club be able to handle another chaotic summer where they have to lose a key figure? I hope for the sake of the club that the differences will be resolved and we get to see Tuchel as Dortmund’s boss next season (Sporting Director Michael Zorc said reports that Dortmund CEO Watzke’s interview was meant to prepare the fans for a managerial change are “nonsense.”) and more than anything I hope these rumors won’t spoil the results of the last two games and what could be a wonderful end to a rollercoaster season.

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Brook lives in Ethiopia, and started following the Bundesliga from a very young age. His favourite players then were Thomas Rosicky - the reason he became a Dortmund fan! - and Marcelinho of Hertha Berlin. He likes to watch, read, write and talk about football with special interest in discussing emerging young talents. Follow @brookge

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